As I began looking at today’s scriptures, I could not help to smile at the memory that immediately came to my mind. When I was still quite a young girl, I remember my dad saying to me, “put your mind in gear before you put your mouth in motion.” I imagine like most little ones do at one time or another, I was probably having a hard time putting my thoughts or questions into words. Words are powerful! They can be used to accomplish so much and I never really realized until many years later how powerful what my dad had spoken over me would be! For example, the words of a parent or a teacher spoken to a young child can give the student encouragement and courage to chase their greatest dreams. Harsh and unkind words from that same person could begin a pattern of defeat and self-loathing. Well thought out and placed words bring encouragement and joy, edification; building us up rather than tearing us down. On the other hand, careless and thoughtless words can undermine us, cause us to feel less than and actually bring discouragement or lack of courage to face the challenges in our daily lives. It bears repeating, Words are powerful! James compares our tongues to a fire. Even the smallest flame is capable of growing into huge roaring forest fires doing more damage than can be easily imagined. Add just the right amount of wind, and the damage to the forest and wildlife can be devastating.
Another thing James points out in chapter three is we use our mouth to bless and praise God and we use that same mouth to curse men; the very same men made in God’s image. It should not be so, he says. Then James asks can a spring produce both fresh water and bitter water? Ok, but what does this have to do with grace? Our first verse will clear that up a little, let’s look:
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:29-32 NASB)
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. (Ephesians 4:29, 30 MSG)
Who knew? My sweet daddy was teaching me a Biblical principle and I did not even realize it. “Put you mind in gear”, think before you speak he said. Words once spoken cannot be taken back. We can ask for forgiveness but once spoken, unkind words, harsh words do their damage quickly. Even if we catch ourself and immediately try to correct the situation, we risk those words playing on a loop in the other persons head as they wonder if we really did mean it. So, what are some solutions? How do we avoid speaking carelessly? How do we respond rather than react when we find ourselves in a potentially difficult situation or one that is intensifying? Honestly, thinking carefully before answering is one of the best answers. When we respond quickly without first thinking, more times than not we react to what was spoken. When this happens our response is usually from whatever emotion the other persons statement evoked in us. Rather than a well thought out response, our response reflects the emotion in us such as hurt, anger, disappointment, etc.
Another beneficial scripture that can help us make sure our words are not spoken hastily but seasoned with grace is…
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:15, 16 NASB)
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:6 NASB)
We who have chosen to walk with Christ, have been given a great gift. The Holy Spirit now lives within and He will guide us and help us in how we respond. For me, the key is to pause and listen to that still small inner voice. When I do the Holy Spirit will help. It may be by bringing a scripture to mind, bringing a response to mine or it may just be a peace or calm that stirs within me reminding me who God says I am that refutes the situation I find myself in. All I know is it helps me center myself; mind, will and emotions and respond rather than react to the situation. That is when I choose to be wise and do it. When I don’t, I always regret it. May our words be seasoned and may they bring grace and peace to the hearer!
For the thing is very near you—it is in your mouth and in your mind so that you can do it. “Look! I have set before you today life and prosperity on the one hand, and death and disaster on the other. What I am commanding you today is to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to obey his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances. Then you will live and become numerous and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are about to possess. Deuteronomy 30:14-16